Brisbane, Australia – Contacting family, boating, botanic gardens, comedy and bars

Our first impressions were not all positive. Our immediate neighbourhood seemed, initially, a little drab and uninspiring. You know, lots of workman, sitting outside cafes and closed shops.

Thankfully, this impression soon changed. The shops came alive and we managed to find a decent cafe and ate a great breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausage, tomato and toast for $6. We wandered back, settled into our Airbnb apartment and just had a day of recuperating in the serene, warm Aussie ambiance.

The next day, we spoke to our family over WhatsApp by video call. I’ve never done this before, and it is brilliant and so easy. Just go to the relevant contact and press on the camera icon at the top. Wait for them to answer and it is that simple. Couldn’t believe it actually worked from Australia to the UK!

After this joyous catch up, with our family, off we set towards to city. We went on the train one stop and upon arrival became immediately immersed into the vibrant atmosphere of Brisbane. The Tourist Information Centre is a great place to accumulate all the info you need and the staff are proactive in helping you. We looked around the shopping area and then caught the FREE, yes Free, CityHopper. This takes you up the Brisbane River and is a wonderful way to see the city. This includes sights such as the beautiful parks, gardens, historic architecture juxtaposed with the Brisbane skyline.

The dynamic city of Brisbane, Queensland’s capital, has a diverse range of restaurants and attractions appealing to all. The city is very well set out and has areas of gardens, parks and also shopping, cafes and a trendy bar culture.

The trendy bar culture, is in the Fortitude Valley area and we soon discovered the area may be a little sleepy during the day, but comes alive at night.

We then went to saunter around the Botanic Gardens which are lovely and very relaxing. This is also free and has a wide array of plants, trees and animals. We spotted some large lizards and the birds certainly make different squawking noises from the UK birds, at home.

Hubby had discovered, online, a free Comedy Hour at the local Brisbane arts and culture centre, so off we ventured to see what the Aussies are like at comedy. Very good actually, if a little over sweary. This was an interesting experience because we walked from the CityHopper to the theatre, through the suburbs and I was able to nose at the houses and gardens. Love wandering around the local suburbs to see how the locals live. The housing in Brisbane seems to be rather contained but very smart, as are the pavement, road areas and general infrastructure.

After a great hour of comedy, we walked back through the now dark suburbs, towards our apartment building. On the way back, we stopped at our new ‘local’ the splendid, Tippler’s Tap, for a swift beer or two.

Brisbane is an impressive city and another great location which is well designed and has lots to do.

We are off for a drive out tomorrow so that should be interesting…

Singapore day 4

Last day – ArtScience Museum

It is the last day of our visit to Singapore and we decided to be a little more relaxed. Firstly, we went to the ArtScience Museum. I wrongly assumed, it is  a museum like the one in London, but it isn’t. It holds exhibitions and we saw only one exhibition, called Future World: Where art meets science.

This is an immersive and interactive exhibition which has 16 installations and takes place in the iconic lotus shaped building, next to the also, iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The exhibition has many surreal digitally activated spaces and is clever. However, as clever as they are, I feel that ‘play’ should be in natural spaces, rather than digitally organised installations. That said, it is amazing how the art changes as it detects the visitors’ presence.

Chinatown

After this, we went to Chinatown by metro. This area is in sharp contrast to the rest of Singapore with its old colourful low rise buildings, small cluttered shops, cafes, restaurants and the crowded, bustling ambiance.

We enjoyed a walk to see the Sci Mariamman Temple and ornate Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. Then appreciated a Chinese meal of beef noodles and seafood stir fry which was delicious.

Final Thoughts

Overall, we were very impressed with Singapore. The tourists attractions are futuristic, fun, interesting and obscure. This is the perfect city, so do go, if you get the opportunity. My favourite destination was the Botanic Gardens closely followed by The Gardens by the Bay. Wonderful.

 

Singapore day 3

The Gardens of the Bay

Today we visited the Gardens of the Bay and once again, were very impressed. The work in this space is of a high standard and involves designers, horticulturists, arborists, engineers, plant health and garden landscape experts.

The result is a magnificent display of innovative, space age design, full of colour and splendour. This area of arboreal beauty spans 101 hectares and has been designed on reclaimed land in the centre of Singapore adjacent to the Marina Reservoir. You can go up on a high rise path to gain an aerial observation of the gardens, which is breathtaking, because you see them in conjunction with the city.

The flower dome, is a large contemporary conservatory embodying the dry Mediterranean climate and focuses on various places such as Australia, South America and South Africa. This was a spacious display and it is interesting to observe where various plants have originated from.

Again, the Gardens of the Bay, is a must see destination if you are visiting Singapore.

Marina Bay Sands Hotel

After lunch, we decided to visit the Marina Bay Sands Hotel observation deck. Must admit to becoming a little obsessed about this conspicuous building. It is a phenomenal structure and when I first spotted it, felt it was part of a dreamscape. As I’ve come closer to it, I’ve taken copious photos and even taken a selfie! Oh dear, have I become one of those self obsessed people haha?

Up 57 levels of this magnificent building, you can see the heart and soul of Singapore and what a marvellous sight it is. Panoramic views including a floating football pitch with racing track. This city has so many extraordinary observations and I was pleased to see many of them at this time. Maybe I will return to Singapore one day, and stay in this hotel. Not sure if I can afford it!

Singapore Flyer

We popped back to the Clarke Quay area, to have a quick drink and break in a bar Brewerywerkz. A very nice pint of  No 36 American IPA. Then rather ambiguously, we ventured forth to the Singapore Flyer to see the city at night. Well worth a slow spin on this remarkable wheel and more incredible views ensued.

Another resplendent day and I was very pleased to return to the hotel, to rest. What a wonderful city Singapore is. Clean, green, friendly, fascinating and safe. Brilliant.

 

Singapore day 2

The Botanic Gardens

Felt a lot better after a full night’s sleep and so feeling refreshed we went to The Botanic Gardens. The gardens were established in 1859 by the Agri-Horticultural Society and designed by Lawrence Niven, who reflected the English garden and influenced the emergence of many English gardens and parks from that time to this.

I found the gardens deeply calming and many areas had quite a serene ambiance to it. As you explore the gardens you encounter people practicing yoga, group meditating, picnicing, playing games or just chilling in this park. Quite extraordinary. The plants are beautiful and impeccably presented. The National Orchid Garden is a stunning display of colour and foliage. This section of the park is busy though, but exquisite and well worth a view.

The park and gardens are a wonderful representation of vision, creativity, expertise and superior landscape design and gardening skills. The work undertaken here contributes to plant research, conservation and education. This space is an impressive example of superb landscaping and I highly recommend visiting the gardens and park, particularly if you are interested in horticulture.

Travel and Singapore Cable Car Sky Network

We decided to get a 3 day MRT ticket which is for the underground trains and also covers you for buses. So we caught a bus to the metro station and then a train to the above area. I can recommend this as using the metro system is a safe, clean and quick method for getting around Singapore.

Again, this was a very exciting experience. The views of Mount Faber, Sentosa and the surrounding bay are breathtaking and picturesque.Truly a dramatic landscape and a sensational experience.

If you want to go on the cable car, catch the metro to Harbour Front station.

Clarke Quay

After a snack of Vietnamese food at So Pho Restaurant, we decided to explore the Clark Quay area. If you go, catch the metro to the Clarke Quay station. This area encapsulates the bustling atmosphere of Singapore by combining two centuries of heritage, history and change which influenced Singapore’s transformation from a fishing village to the contemporary metropolis it is today.

The place is full of bars, restaurants, shops and people enjoying themselves. We stopped for a beer and then enjoyed a ride up the river, along the intricate shaped Esplanade, viewing numerous bridges and old buildings blending with the new architecture. Fabulous.

During the ride along the river, the family riding on the boat with us, (the boat was nearly empty) spent the entire time taking photos of each other, doing various poses and not looking at the fabulous scenery at all! Felt like telling them to sit down, put their phones away, relax and just enjoy the ride. Sometimes you should enjoy the experience, don’t you think? Quite bizarre. Why do people want so many photos of themselves?

After more ambling around we stopped for dinner in the Pump Room Microbrewery and had one of the most delicious sirloin steaks I’ve ever eaten. A great end to another stupendous day.

Singapore day 1

We finally arrived very weary but excited at Singapore. From the first moment of arriving, I knew Singapore was a magnificent place.

Driving out of the airport along the wide, tree lined avenues is gratifying. The trees are beautiful, glistening in the sunlight and Singapore enjoys a wonderful array of natural beauty mingling with old and new architecture.

After a much needed shower and freshen up at the hotel, we started to explore this glorious city. We went in a nearby mall and I bought some much needed shorts for me from Marks & Spencer! Then wandered around admiring the varied architecture and went eventually into the art exhibition Presidents Young Talents 2018. The topics of the immersive and mindful paintings, sculptures and new media are instructive and innovative. I personally enjoyed their intellectual endeavours.

We strolled into the first exhibition room where there were a group of people, animatedly English speaking westerners, laughing and talking. I looked at the sculptures and media then heard an almighty crash behind me.

“Sorryeeee, sorry, that was my fault.” A woman drawled anxiously. The man said it didn’t matter when it clearly did and sounded distraught.

I carried on examining and looking at the works whilst pretending to ignore the calamity behind me and then wandered upstairs leaving the poor man taking photos of the debris.

Upstairs the lively people continued to giggle and chat during the remainder of the exhibition. I felt irritated and realised they clearly didn’t care they’d caused so much havoc and distress.

The exhibition overall was simplistic in some ways and clever and innovative as well. I enjoyed the creativity of the work which is refreshing to see in contemporary art installations and media.

We continued to explore and found the famous Raffles Hotel and I enjoyed a Singapore Sling cocktail. Yes, I realised I was going to thoroughly enjoy Singapore which is a splendid city. The people are friendly and very helpful too.

We had endured flying throughout the night so was very tired. We popped back to our hotel for a cup of tea, break and planning before going back out for dinner and drinks. I decided that we should frequent a couple of bars and then have an early night.

The bars were researched online by hubby and very good. We drank some superior craft beers and then went home for a much needed full night’s sleep. Tomorrow the sightseeing really starts. Ho hum…

Dubai

The big adventure has started and I’ve stopped over with the hubby in Dubai. We covered a lot in two days and walked miles and miles.

First things first. We cocked up and booked a ‘park’ hotel outside of Dubai. “Are we nearly there?” Husband asked the driver anxiously.

Eventually, we arrived tired at the hotel and requiring a drink. After dropping our cases off and inspecting the splendid accommodation we went in search of a beer. A friendly guest showed us to the pool bar but it had just closed. Bed it was then. Yay.

After breakfast, which consisted of stir fries, curries, eggs, turkey sausages, fish, salads, fruit, mmmm yum, we caught a taxi to the local metro station.

You can acquire a day ticket for 22ds (about five pounds). We set off to the Burj Khalifa and Mall stop. This stops in the mall area but you have to walk half a mile to the shopping bit. Then another half a mile to the lake area where the Burj Khalifa tower is and famous fountains. Good exercise haha flipping ha.

We booked our tower visit then had a wander around the area, had a lunch in Pret then went off to the Souk area which is the old and original Dubai. Back on the metro. The stop is Al Ras green line 23.

When I arrived it felt like I’d stumbled inadvertently onto a building site. However, if you walk along the road and turn right you do enter a souk.

The first area is fill of jewellery and then the following spaces are full of colourful spices, crockery, fabrics and clothes. A spectacular display of colour and vibrancy. The area feels safe enough because of all the other like minded tourists around you which is gratifying because upon arrival I felt slightly intimidated. The locals try to sell you their wares but are polite and not too insistent. All good fun and it is fascinating to get to the real Dubai.

We walked along the Creek and enjoyed the amazing views. Dubai has a thriving metropolis but it is imperative everyone experiences this bustling area and it was the highlight of my time in Dubai.

Eventually, we ventured forth to the tower, dinner and fountain display.

The Burj Khalifa is a good experience and make no mistake, you are high up. We managed, for once, to get window armchairs to view Dubai. This did placate hubby a little regarding the extortionate cost involved haha. Not thrilled about queuing to leave the place though. The tower is a magnificent accomplishment and incredible to see especially at night.

We had a super dinner in a local Lebanese restaurant followed by the fountain display which was a wonderful way to end the day.

Back home, via the metro, off we gallantly went, along the moving pathways (escalators) for the fifth time thinking about the long but interesting day. Phew.

Parks and Pool – Day 2

What fun! Our hotel has some associated parks attached. We had a stroll around a selection of them and braved a few rollercoasters and water rapids. Someone braved the bullet train. So I’ve been upside down and round and round at great speed. Loved it and I’ll grow up one day but not yet. During the afternoon we languished by the pool. Boy, it’s hot in Dubai but worth stopping by. Briefly.

Oh, and maybe the hotel wasn’t such a bad choice after all.

Minimalism – Decluttering a Wardrobe and Packing…

Recently, I decided to reorganise my wardrobe because it was starting to look chaotic. Also, I’m off on my adventures again soon, so a tidy wardrobe helps with packing.

Because of the changing seasons, I needed to curate winter clothing too. Although the clothing space was sorted out a year ago, I wanted to obtain more room so I could enjoy my clothes and see them clearly. To be honest, I thought I’d only throw (recycle) a few things out. However, I gradually became quite brave as well as disciplined and managed a whole black sack full! My clothing throw out list is as follows:

– Anything that doesn’t fit NOW goes

– Anything not worn during the past year goes

– Anything that is damaged beyond repair goes

Also, I made a note of what stuff I wear daily and realised my taste for minimal clothing…

– Crew neck tops

– Plain trousers/skirts

– Favourite colour blue

– Selection of scarves, boots and jackets

I tend to dress these looks up with bright, contemporary print scarves and I love jackets too (cloth and leather). Also, love wearing boots and have quite a few pairs. Occasionally, I will buy a bright flowery dress or blouse/shirt but I don’t wear this look much.

Packing

I have learnt the art of folding the Marie Kondo way and it is fabulous for packing. Everything looks tidy and you can see what you have at a glance which is particularly useful if you are travelling and only staying at a place for a night or two.

Useful Sources

A Small Wardrobe (This blogger did a 28 Day Minimalist Wardrobe Challenge) on WordPress

Marie Kondo